Homo Erectus with Record for Sustaining a Fire

The first use of fire is generally associated with Homo erectus, who are thought to have begun using fires approximately 1.5 million years ago.

I smashed the head of this one with the blunt edge of my sharp stone because she killed our small one with her fingernails. She was eating its thigh when I got back with more wood. The fire is always hungry for more wood like the child was always hungry for the woman’s milk. The child would have helped me gather wood. I lured her from the trees with a tooth I pulled from my aching jaw. Tonight I am making a necklace from the dead woman’s teeth and a tendon from her long arm to coax another woman from the trees. Sparks from the fire shine in the teeth before they go out on the roof of my cave. Tomorrow I will go and place it on the pine needles near the path where the women walk to the stream and then hide behind a tree. When one stoops to pick it up I will push her down and strike her softly with my stone and drag her back to the fire. When she wakes she will feel the necklace tied around her neck and feel the fire’s warmth and see me feed the fire and understand it is hungry for wood.

Frank Giampietro’s first book of poems, Begin Anywhere, was published by Alice James Books in 2008. He is the editor and designer of the online poetry journal, La Fovea (http://www.lafovea.org) and Poems by Heart (http://www.poemsbyheart.org). His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including 32 Poems, American Book Review, Barrow Street, CutBank, FENCE, Hayden’s Ferry, Ploughshares, and Rain Taxi. Awards for his writing include an Academy of American Poets Prize and fellowships from The Virginia Center for Creative Arts.